Unaccompanied Adolescent Minors’ Experiences of Exception and Abandonment in the Ventimiglia Border Space

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Unaccompanied Adolescent Minors’ Experiences of Exception and Abandonment in the Ventimiglia Border Space


  • Océane Uzureau Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR), Ghent University, Belgium
  • Ine Lietaert Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR), Ghent University, Belgium / Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies, United Nations University, Belgium
  • Daniel Senovilla Hernández MIGRINTER, National Centre for Scientific Research/University of Poitiers, France
  • Ilse Derluyn Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium / Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR), Ghent University, Belgium


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 919 | Downloads: 386


Abstract:  This article explores unaccompanied adolescent minors’ (UAMs) experiences of deterrent practices at internal EU borders while being on the move. Previous studies have acknowledged the securitisation of external borders through gatekeeping and fencing practices; however, there is a recent and continued renationalisation of internal EU borders by the member states. Like other migrants who are travelling irregularly, UAMs also often face harsh living conditions and repeated rights violations in border areas, regardless of their specific rights to protection and psychological needs. Research has called for a renewed focus on migrant children’s experiences as active agents at the borders, but until now studies exploring UAMs’ experiences at internal EU borders remain scarce. Drawing on Agamben’s notion of “legal exception,” we seek to explore how deterrent practices are confusingly intertwined and affect UAMs’ psychological wellbeing and subjectivities in the Ventimiglia border space. Participant observations and in-depth interviews conducted with UAMs at the French-Italian border provide unique insights into how these bordering practices affect migrant children’s legal and psychological safety and reshape their subjectivities. This contribution highlights UAMs’ conflicting needs and feelings of institutional “abandonment” when left without institutional welfare protection in the border space, on the one hand, and feeling pressured to act responsibly towards their relatives, on the other.

Keywords:  abandonment; exception; internal EU borders; safety; unaccompanied adolescent migrants; wellbeing

Published:  


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v10i2.5139


© Océane Uzureau, Ine Lietaert, Daniel Senovilla Hernández, Ilse Derluyn. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.